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Cloudy Witnesses (A Prayer Update) September 7, 2006

Posted by peterong in Personal Ministry Thoughts, Rants, Uncategorized.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Welcome to another edition and prayer update. This has been a vibrant week of incredible moments of clarity and affirmation the work that God is doing in the Asian American church. I was especially encouraged for the direction of the ministry and nourishment for myself personally this past week. (more…)

Asian American Emergent Skypecast August 28, 2006

Posted by peterong in Asian American Church, Asian American Ministries, Events, Personal Ministry Thoughts.
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Thanks to DJ Chuang for hosting the Second Asian American Emergent Skypecast and we had some thoughtful discussions on how the emergent church movement can be thought of towards an Asian American church. We had the following participants who ventured onto skype to meet over the internet… We had including Emergent Asia’s Sivin Kit, as well as Ben Pun, David Park, Peter Ong, Tim Liu, and my buddy Theo Wong. You can listen in to part 1 and part 2 online.

And, Tim had these great thoughts as a closing remark:

In my experience, AsAm churches tend to be even more conservative in terms of practice than American churches. They tend to be slower to adapt to changes and are rarely forerunners in ministry innovation. Many people (such as Dan Kimball) see the emerging church as a response to the contemporary worship movement. But in my (Chinese) church, we are barely contemporary. We still have those who feel that drums are of the devil. So I think the Asian churches maybe just need more time to catch up. Also, I wonder if anyone else notices the overlaps between the postmodern culture and the Eastern/Asian worldview? For example, preaching in narrative and in non-linear flow of thought is normal for Asians. When I preach to the 1st genearation adults in my church, they love to hear stories and narrative. Its already part of how they communicate. Another example is the emphasis on community and relationships in the Emerging church. Its already is a central part of asian culture. So in a lot of ways, I could see the AsAm church very welcoming to some aspects of the emerging church if it is presented in the right way.

Overall, it was great to hear these men share their thoughts about the horizon of Asian American ministry, particularly for me, I wanted to see how the campus could be a grounds for cultivating some new thoughts on Asian American ministry. Part of my heart was to see how this is played out in the real scenarios of the Asian American church. It got my juices churning while thinking of these things and this building of community around dialogue commands my passions. You must join us for the third Asian American Emergent Skypecast.

Visitations August 23, 2006

Posted by peterong in Asian American, Asian American Campus, Asian American Church, Asian American Laity Ministry, Asian American Ministries, Asian American Youth, Personal Ministry Thoughts, Uncategorized.
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“It is not won by promotion, but by many prayers and tears. It is attained by confession of sin, and much heart searching and humbling before God; by self-surrender, a courageous sacrifice of every idol, a bold uncomplaining embrace of the cross, and by an eternal, unfaltering looking unto Jesus crucified. It is not gained to us as loss for Christ. This is a great price, but it must be paid by the leader who would not be merely a nominal but a real spiritual leader whose power is recognized and felt in heaven, on earth and in hell. -a quote about the road to spiritual authority and leadership by Samuel Brengle, Salvation Army.

Dear Friends and Family,

I can’t believe that the summer is almost over! Jamie and I are back in Syracuse prepared for a new season of our marriage this fall. It is good to be back on the blog world and I hope to capture what has happened in the past 10 days. I had the opportunity to go to a special wedding in Massachusetts on the eve of our first year wedding anniversary. Then headed to Rhode Island where we met with my parents for some time of leisure and good food. Then we headed to the city for several meetings with friends, ministry partners and potential funders for the Asian American Laity Project. Then we had a special gathering of friends for my birthday and then sharing at Chinese Conservative Baptist Church.

It was my first extended trip in New York City for a time and it was a time of a re-emergence of my heart towards ministry. I met with the President of Grace Christian Fellowship at Cornell (where I will serve as volunteer staff this year!) and we talked about our common vision for the campus. I was able to conduct a special training for the Herald Gospel Camp counselors on how to minister to campers. I met up with immigrant youth whom I served and now are halfway through graduating college and making decisions for their futures. It amazes me to know that 7 years ago when I met them, they were barely speaking English and knew little about Christ and now they are preparing to engineers, math teachers, and now serving the church as bible study leaders…Praise God.

As I wrapped up my time there, I felt a deep love and heaviness for the city and an eagerness to return to serving this place, this distant home of mine. But thanks to words from friends (special thanks to Jenny and Caroline) for your encouragement in this time of waiting. In some ways, it has been a time of sabbatical for me and it has deepened my faith and my passions. I am yearning for a sense of something familiar here in Syracuse…

Jamie and are looking for a new church and had a great time visiting Eastern Hills Bible Church and we are looking to visit International Assembly and the Korean Church of Syracuse. Our ideal match would be a place for us to learn and to serve together, especially in areas of community and international students. We had a wonderful dinner with a family serving through Young Life in Syracuse and it was a great exchange of vision and common leaders whom we admire. Please pray for Jamie and I during this important time for us to worship and build community. We are thankful for our time at Syracuse Alliance Church for the past year and continue with the relationships that God has begun.

Funding for Asian American Laity Project
The Asian American Laity Project needs an additional $11,000 to raise for the project. I had some productive meetings with some supporters and potential partners for this ministry. Pray that God’s provision would be given to this special project that I have a passion to serve those who faithfully serve in the Asian American churches. I am developing a stronger peace about this and I know that God will provide in his timing.

Special Lunch with Paul Tokunaga and Leadership Roundtable
PaLM and Intervarsity is hosting a special lunch with Paul Tokunaga at the Chinese Evangel Missions Church in Queens. I am looking forward to attending this and to hear the engagement with Mr. Tokunaga and the respective pastors of the Asian American church. I will facilitate a special Leadership Roundtable at Eastern Chinese Bible Conference with Paul Tokunaga and several leaders from Intervarsity, Campus Crusades for Christ, and Chinese Christian Herald Crusades during the labor day weekend and I will also presenting a special workshop on evangelizing to young adults and postmoderns.

Volunteer staff for Intervarsity Grace Christian Fellowship at Cornell
I have offered to serve with Intervarsity this year with Grace Christian Fellowship at Cornell. I am excited to serve the college students at Cornell and to connect with what God is doing there. Pray for my involvement to equip the leadership there and to serve the fellowship in a way that will bring the campus to a deeper knowledge of Christ.

Serving with Chinese Christian Herald Crusades
During my time in New York, I was blessed by spending some time with current staff at CCHC and learning about the new and exciting things that God is doing there. I spoke to the Director and we are arranging for me to somehow be involved with supporting their new direction and vision for preaching the gospel to Chinese community. I am not sure if this will be suitable but want to be open…Pray for wisdom and for a balance of ministries that I am involved in.

Mid-Hudson Chinese Christian Church
I am tentatively working with the leadership at the Mid-Hudson Chinese Christian Church to develop their youth and young adult ministries. I will be preaching there once a month for their special concurrent services there. I really love the ministry of this church as they are striving to serve the second generation Chinese church. Many of the youth who go there are from Hofstra New York Summer Conference where I spoke this summer. I will be speaking at the end of September and spending time with leadership and develop a strategy for growth. Pray for the my time there and for mutual sharing and blessing as we seek to serve the church together.

OneHouse NYC
I had a chance to meet up with the organizers of the One House event. We had a Thursday prayer meeting and there were poignant moments of discovery for us regarding where we stood on these issues and also for each other. There were tears and many earnest pleas for God’s provision in this matter. The event will be in NYC on October 21st, it is a unity concert focusing on social justice. I am excited to announce that Neah Lee will be performing and sharing that night. I am preparing my talk and excited to delving into the writings of Cornel West, Ron Sider and Martin Luther King. Pray for my talk to be filled with an overarching theme of God’s mercy and his desire for Justice….

Please pray for a youth pastor how has been diagnosed with Lymphoma and that it seems treatable but continue to lift him and his family up as they go through this difficult time.

Special praise to God for Kara, Esther for lunch (sushi!!), Jinny and Koo (rain down on them in Washington!), EUG-ene for catching up and learning about fatherhood, John for meeting with me and sharing some thoughts on the Asian American church, thanks for all the youth who came out to hang out and have some herb-orade, for all the people who came out to my birthday party, for the OneHouse folks for a meaningful time of fellowship and prayer, Simeon for sharing your vision for campus, and a special thanks to all of you who sent me words of encouragement and whose support means so much to me…God sees and will provide.

Stop Dreaming July 31, 2006

Posted by peterong in Personal Ministry Thoughts, Uncategorized.
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“Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream….But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and if we are fortunate, with ourselves….Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it….He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“God the Creator arranged things so that we need each other” Basil of Caesarea

I am happy to be back on this blistering hot Monday afternoon to invite you to another edition of my web prayer update. Community arrives and I am seeking to find that elusive community that I am seeking in the midst of this pilgrimage. There has been its good and the bad and even the bad has moved me to a deeper sense of moving beyond the surface of community…it begins with the simple exchange and similar passion for God and people. In this season of life, I realize more that the grace of community comes in our sharing and in unity.

“one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.”

Acts 4:32-33.

I think I have experienced some good and bad here in Syracuse. The good are the encounters with people who love God in their broken ways…often imperfect…a bit messy but nevertheless with great hope for the continuing work that God is doing…at the worst, I have seen isolation where people are hurting and are seen through the lens of their shortcomings rather than the hope in Christ. (more…)

Arrival through Departure July 26, 2006

Posted by peterong in Personal Ministry Thoughts, Uncategorized.
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“”Man may have forgotten how to listen.” From the film Lady in the Water

Dear friends and family,

Thank you for visiting and reading this week’s edition of my prayer update. As I write this I just enjoyed the merging of community as friends from New York City and Syracuse. As they arrived at Lake Placid, each of their faces stirred in me the joy of community as we hiked in the rain for 6.5 hours. As we concluded the day and sat around a dinner table, I saw their stories and how much they have enriched my life…Pam & Jeff (their similar journey towards with Jamie and I as we shared our first year of marriage together…They also share similar love for nature and ministry-they are former Campus Crusades for Christ staff), Joanna (who is discovering her entrance into community again), Linda (who reminds me of my days of leading a community growth group that centered on discovering Christ through scripture), Harvey (who has been one of the most important brothers through one of the most difficult seasons of my life), Amy (this sister is one of the greatest blessings of my life as I see her grow in her faith and how God is working in her) and of course my beautiful wife who continues to support a simple man who stumbles and have little to offer her except my devotion to her and to this unfolding fulfillment of this ministry. I love that God has given us this and how much He provides through community. I feel so free through this expression of community and friendship and I hope that we will have more moments of gathering together, breaking bread and giving thanks. (more…)

Finding a Chapel July 17, 2006

Posted by peterong in Personal Ministry Thoughts, Rants.
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“Our Lord was pleased to assume the likeness of every poor man and compared Himself to every poor man in order that no man who believes in him should exalt himself over his brother…For ‘I was hungry,’ and ‘I was thirsty’ was said not just of one occassion, not of one day, but of the whole of life. In the same way ‘you gave me food,’ ‘you gave me drink,’ ‘you clothed me’ and so on on does not indicate one incident, but a constant attitude to everyone.” —Simeon The New Theologian (949-1022)

Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings to all of you! I hope that you are well and re-entering this new week filled with hope. I pray that you are prepared for another week of opportunities to express your journey of communion with God and with the people of God. I hope that this weeks Prayer update is a blessing to you.

I am planning a special fundraising event in New York City in late August for some of the last stretch of funding. I am hopeful and will continue with the planning until the funding comes through. I am going to continue with my networking meetings and with the ministry despite the funding. I just need 40 people who are willing to offer $25 a month for the ministry for me to raise the funds needed to move ahead with the ministry…Pray for distinct provision and for me to ask with diligence and faith. (more…)

Definitions of moments July 10, 2006

Posted by peterong in Personal Ministry Thoughts, Rants.
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“Nothing shall be lost that is done for God or in obedience to Him.” — John Owen

Dear Friends and family,

I am still alive!!! Despite some recent sebacks (I got laid off from my Syracuse part-time position and some recent adjustments in my life in Syracuse) I am pressing forth and enjoying this time as a season of reflection and challenge to trust in His provision. To do things unto the Lord…out of reverence and devotion.

I am back and somewhat recovered from an intense week speaking at the New York Summer Conference at Hofstra. This annual Conference attracts about 1,400 participants each year as people from the east coast gather from different Chinese churches. I had the privilege this year to be the main speaker for the youth track. The theme verse was “Perserving Faith” based on Hebrews 11:39-12:1.

I want to thank you for all your prayers and your heart that reminds me of the “cloud of witnesses” that continue to encourage me. I am so blessed by the community of friends who continue to encourage and challenge with truth and love.

It was my third year attending this conference and in the past I felt a bit ambivalent about the conference because it was mostly for “churched” youth and I felt many of them were apathetic to their faith or to be too “familiar” with the whole conference “thing.” But as I prayed and prepared for the talks, I became more and more passionate about giving these youth a challenge to engage with the gospel and to also be authentic with God, with each other and with themselves. As I opened up my talk on Friday night…I felt a stirring and despite all my cynicism, I wanted to be faithful to the preaching on the gospel…as the days went and I spoke, I spoke at the morning and evening sessions (the nights were shorter), I saw the youth being engaged with me…I really felt the presence of the Holy Spirit…and their eyes seem to respond with attentiveness and nodding (some nodding off too…).

Then on Sunday night, there was suppose to be an altar call for the youth…I told the leaders that I am not a big fan of altar calls and in my years at CCHC I didn’t do altar calls but rather have the youth respond individually with God…it is confusing and emotional and sometimes the kids respond to the altar calls for different reasons (peer pressure, it is the thing to do…and just the pure emotions of it)…Also, I feel that it gives a false sense of the “defining moment” whereas our journey towards discipleship is a gradual and progressive one…that requires a series of defining moments instead of just one…I wanted the kids to respond to the gospel in their seats and in their own time…and not the altar…so, I expressed to the leadership that I wasn’t going to do one…they supported me and we didn’t plan on one…and I spoke to the worship team and they agreed with me….as I prepped for the evening talk about the journey of the “prodigal son” and Jesus’s own journey toward calvary…and there was this heaviness in my heart…I felt in my heart that God was speaking;

“Peter, these are my followers, don’t deny them the opportunity to walk from their seats toward the front…let them walk with me…towards calvary…”

and in that moment I looked up from the pulpit I saw the youth weeping…then I invited the youth to come up and commit their lives to Christ and to symbolically walk with Christ toward the altar. A dozen kids came forward and then another dozen…soon there was about 200 hundred youth who stood before me and some in their seats just weeping. As tears were coming from my eyes, I expressed to the youth that this is a moment of brilliant surrender…and that this is not the “defining moment” and to pursue God with diligence and to “come home.”

As the conference closed, I saw these young church kids connect with the gospel and to renew their faith. We laughed we cried and the leadership and I were amazed the way God moved in these few days…and the “witnessing” night was filled with such authenticity as youth shared about issues dealing with drugs, addictions, brokenness, authenticity, and their return home this weekend…

Overall, it was one of those moments that God has given me as a way of reminding me of this simple truth, that He uses even me…to speak…to engage…to offer a simple message that reminds me that we are beautiful and God is beauty…

You can read about their experiences from the New York Summer Conference blogring or you can read comments from my xanga

Fund Development
I am still in crunch time and the reality is setting in that I might not be able to start the ministry in the Fall but continuing and trusting. There has been some highlights as friends are supporting me and also so moments of faith that is so exciting to see what God will do in this next season of ministry. Pray for clarity as I share my heart for this new ministry that I am finding more and more is needed in the Asian American church.

Jamie and I had some time with friends and family. It was nice to spend time with her family and learning more about the stories that make up her life..I am so thankful for these friends! You guys remind me of the beauty of an Acts 2 church.

Speaking Engagements
I am getting ready for speaking in New York in September for the One House event which will have a focus on unity for the church and also a pursuit for Social Justice. I am also filling out the schedules for speaking at several conferences. I will be speaking at a joint service for OCM High School and College Fellowships.

I am planning out my summer to assist with church ministries in the Fall. OCM will not be needing my assistance with Zion, their college ministry and I am still working with New York Chinese Baptist Church to discuss my involvement with their start of their mentorship program.

Syracuse Alliance Church Youth Ministry
I organized a prayer walk in the community with several of the Youth Leadership Team members and we prayed along the outlining communities and also for an area where a lot of our youth come to our Wednesday night “Breakthrough” fellowship. Many of these kids are urban kids who are unchurched and God has done an amazing job of bringing them. After the prayer walk we had a productive meeting where we were able to strategize over some of the upcoming months and re-focusing our ministries. I am very thankful for a great team of people who are so committed and determined to serve these youth. I am still trying hard to be sensitive to them and not “step on their toes” and allow them to follow what God is directing the youth ministry to be.

Prayer Items
Funding Funding Funding…pray that according to His time, that the funding would come in so I can launch the Asian American Laity project with PaLM.

Jamie and I are in the midst of some transitions in Syracuse and discovering new possibilities for us to serve together. We are both anxious and excited as we want to make sure our direction is filled with Holy Spirit insight and that we make sure we continue to develop the relationships we have already and continue to seek a deeper fellowship with folks here.

Pray for friends who are getting married and our own prayer life to be filled with a sense of yearning and groaning for the glory of God.

Our friend Amy is getting baptized this weekend…we are so excited for her and praying that this public expression will be filled with such a recognition of bringing her home and into a deeper discipleship with Him.